NEW YORK, NY. - Christie’s presents Asian Art Week of Spring 2014. The series of nine sales, taking place from 18-21 March, will bring together superb examples of Asian Art from China, Japan, Korea, India, and Southeast Asia. From a sale of works by Francis Newton Souza, consigned by the artist’s daughter, to the highly anticipated sale of the ‘Min’ fanglei, this season will offer exemplary works from some of the most respected collections of our time. The week will also include Christie’s first sale dedicated to Pan-Asian masterpieces of devotion: an exceptional collection of 32 masterpieces from all corners of Asia, representing Buddhism, Hinduism, Daoism, and Shintoism, including a special lot by Hiroshi Sugimoto. In all, over 1,400 lots will be offered and the week of sales is expected to realize $70 million.
FRANCIS NEWTON AND MARIA SOUZA: A LIFE PARTNERSHIP IN ART, THE SHELLEY SOUZA COLLECTION
Christie’s presents Francis Newton and Maria Souza: A Life Partnership in Art, The Shelley Souza Collection, over 150 works of art from their daughter, Shelley, many of which have never been seen before. Shelley brought these works to light to honor a life partnership in art between Francis Newton Souza and Maria Figueiredo Souza, a remarkable artist and designer in her own right. They met in 1945, after Souza’s first solo exhibition at the Bombay Arts Salon. Both immediately recognized each other’s genius and their mutual respect became the driving force of their relationship. Differences in their moral and ethical values caused them to separate eight years after their marriage in 1947– which took place the same year as India’s Independence and the foundation of the Progressive Artists’ Group. Maria, however, was perhaps Souza’s most unwavering advocate, whose support outlasted their tumultuous relationship. She championed his vision before he achieved fame, and remained a staunch believer in his artistry throughout her life.
The selection of works on offer celebrate the broad scope of the artist’s work and the variety of artistic media he was able to effortlessly command, as well as demonstrate the sheer range of the artist’s vision, which Maria sought to protect and nurture. Works such as the Bust of a Man, painted in 1968 in mixed media and spray paint, exhibit new forms of expression (estimate: $80,000-120,000). The raw energy of spray paint and the vigor of the abstracted form demonstrate the innovation of Souza’s vision. His painting of a landscape from 1963 reveals an irrepressible dynamism (illustrated right; estimate: $60,000-80,000). There is an unrestrained enthusiasm, a liberty in the application of color that is applied swiftly with a palette knife, creating smooth pulsating textures. It is a direct reflection of his uncontrollable painterly passion, and his overarching sense of joy.
SOUTH ASIAN MODERN + CONTEMPORARY ART
Christie’s sale of South Asian Modern + Contemporary Art, taking place on 18 March, will feature works of leading 20th and 21st century artists from India, Sri Lanka and Pakistan. The sale will offer an array of Modernist masterpieces by Syed Haider Raza, Tyeb Mehta, Maqbool Fida Husain, and George Keyt alongside the biggest names in South Asian contemporary art, including Bharti Kher, Subodh Gupta, Rashid Rana, Jitish Kallat, and Rina Banerjee. The sale also includes a special feature on modern and contemporary sculpture.
Leading the sale is Syed Haider Raza’s La Terre, or the Earth, of 1973 (estimate on request). This tour de force belongs to a key period in Raza’s career and exhibits his mastery of landscape, expressionistic use of color, and his spiritual and symbolic engagement with the notion of creation, the bindu. The earth is conceived in burnt siennas, ochres, and browns, expressed through lines and diagonals that generate the forces that control the sacred order of the universe. La Terre is thus an amalgamation of the numerous themes Raza embarked upon throughout his career. Within the artist’s oeuvre there are very few works of this monumental size and caliber. La Terre, 1973, is a testament to Raza’s great intellectual capacity and artistic virtuosity.
Tyeb Mehta’s Untitled (Bull) (estimate: $2,000,000-3,000,000) will also be offered in the sale. Painted in 2000, this painting of a falling, flailing bull with its marble tones appears almost sculptural, and uses an icon he systematically revisited and reinvigorated. The bull had held a fascination for Mehta, and became an emblem for his artistic and philosophical expression. This painting serves as the apotheosis of Mehta’s vision on the human condition, in its symbolic use of the tumbling trussed beast. Painted at the threshold of the new millennium, in 2000, this monumental work is one of the largest paintings from the artist’s oeuvre, the size of which underscores the significance of the bull in his artistic language. Partially anthropomorphized, this bull, ordinarily associated with immense masculinity and strength, is depicted by Mehta as victimized by circumstance, fate, and damnation. The subject, Bull, can be seen as a visual epitaph of the artist’s quest to express the grandest of ideas about existence and life’s struggles.
Leading the contemporary group is Subodh Gupta’s “Spill” (estimate: $300,000-500,000), depicting the stainless steel vessel, an iconic emblem of Gupta’s artistic vocabulary. Always finding tension and irony in the mundane, the artist regularly employs the stainless steel bucket and cooking implements in both his paintings and sculptures. In Spill, Gupta has magnified the pedestrian milk bucket as it spills over in excess with more utensils. Focusing on containing the minutiae of culture and tradition within the pristine and protective walls of stainless steel, Gupta’s vessel becomes an overt icon of Indian vision.
THE TEN SIGNS OF LONG LIFE: THE ROBERT MOORE COLLECTION OF KOREAN ART
On March 18, Christie's will present The Ten Signs of Long Life: The Robert Moore Collection, a single owner sale of 120 works of exceptional Korean ceramics, lacquers, paintings, and sculptures. Thoughtfully acquired over the past twenty years, The Robert Moore Collection ranks among the most important collections of Korean art and this sale follows two successful previous sales – in October 1986, Christie’s first-ever sale of Korean Art in New York, and the other in March 2006.
Robert Moore is one of America’s most notable Korean art collectors. His passion started in the mid 1950’s when he served in the US Army and was stationed in Korea. When he returned home, he was still captivated by his experiences of Korea, especially of the people and the land. He set about learning the art business without going to college or taking courses in art history. His collecting journey took him to auction rooms, galleries, antique stores and collectors’ homes, an experience he has always enjoyed. He became more knowledgeable about Korean art and culture, turning into a catalyst in his ability to expand and educate fellow colleagues, scholars, and institutions.
Among the highlights of the sale are a Joseon dynasty oxhorn-applied accessory box (Hwagak haem) (estimate: $60,000-70,000), a Joseon dynasty porcelain Jar with the Ten Signs of Long Life (Shipjaengseng) (estimate: $40,000-60,000), and a 19th-century ten-panel screen, adorned with battle scenes and archaistic seals (estimate: $100,000-150,000).
JAPANESE AND KOREAN ART
Christie’s sale of Japanese and Korean Art, will feature over 210 works of art offering a selection for collectors of all interests, from screens to porcelain, to paintings by modern masters. The Japanese section will feature an iron articulated model of a dragon (estimate: $200,000-300,000) from the Edo period (18th-19th century), measuring approximately 3½ feet in length. This is the second-largest known iron articulated dragon signed by a Myochin artist, the best-known of several great armor-making clans active in the 15th and 16th centuries. As the Edo period was relatively peaceful, however, there was not a great demand for armor and the Myochin expanded their repertoire into the manufacture of other iron objects, with the animals later considered by some to be the high point of their art. The great variety of iron model animals made by the Myochin is attested by examples in museum collections. Although the Myochin artists strove, for the most part, for realism in the creatures they made, it was the dragon that allowed the greatest play to their imaginations. Additional highlights in the Japanese portion of the sale include an eight-panel screen depicting the River Festival at Tsushima Shrine (estimate: $300,000-350,000) and a lacquer book cabinet (shodana) from the Meiji period (estimate: $30,000-40,000).
Leading the Korean portion of the sale is a large blue and white porcelain jar (estimate: $380,000-400,000) from the Joseon dynasty (18th-19th century). Standing over one foot tall, this impressively modeled jar is decorated with a landscape scene. A strong selection of modern and contemporary Korean paintings will also be offered, including works by Hyon Gyon (R.I.P., 2010; estimate: $30,000-40,000), Lee Seunghee (Tao, 2012; estimate: $8,000-10,000), and Kim Sou (Figure, 1958, estimate: $8,000-12,000).
INDIAN AND SOUTHEAST ASIAN ART
Christie’s sale of Indian and Southeast Asian Art on 19 March will offer 160 works of art, spanning a multitude of collecting categories, including classical Indian sculpture and paintings, as well as works of art from Gandhara, Tibet, Nepal, Thailand, and Indonesia. Among the top lots of the sale is a Tibeto-Chinese gilt bronze figure of a Pancha Raksha deity (estimate: $150,000-250,000) from the 14th/15th century. The Pancha Raksha, or “five protector goddesses,” are a group of five female deities that are personifications of the five early Buddhist texts (sutras), the oldest of which dates to the 4th century.
The sale will also offer a Densatil-style Tibetan gilt bronze figure of a Nagaraja from the 15th century (estimate: $100,000-150,000), which represents a serpent king. His regal character is emphasized by the abundance of ornaments and richly inlaid jewelry and his graceful gesture of supplication and adoration is considered to be among the most iconic of the Densatil group.
Also included in the sale are a 16th century Nepalese gilt bronze figure of Maitreya (estimate: $100,000-150,000), and a Tibetan pair of paintings of Tsongkhapa, circa 1800 (estimate: $60,000-80,000).
FINE CHINESE PAINTINGS
On 19 March, Christie’s will present the sale of Fine Chinese Paintings, a dedicated sale of over 120 works, with traditional paintings and calligraphy ranging from the Yuan dynasty to the modern period and representing a wide variety of themes and styles. Leading the sale is the imposing landscape Clear Stream from the Mountains, painted by the Orthodox master Wang Shimin (1592-1680) (estimate:$200,000-300,000) in 1660, at the peak of his creative powers, and a characteristically expressive Pine Tree by the Individualist artist Bada Shanren (1626-1705)(estimate: $40,000-60,000). Another dynamic nature scene is the colorful and energetic Amaranth and Cricket by the modern master Qi Baishi (1864-1957) (estimate: $100,000-150,000). This sale includes numerous works by classical and modern painters and calligraphers from private collections in the United States. Studied and treasured through the decades, these works are fresh to the market and offer exceptional quality. In several instances, the art was a gift direct from the artist, such as a series of personal landscapes and ink sketches by Huang Junbi (1898-1991) (lot 1391-1394) to his student Tian Manshi.
This sale also includes an innovative selection of works by accomplished women artists, an area of growing interest among collectors and scholars. Representing the classical period is Liu Shi (1618-1664), an accomplished poet, painter, and calligrapher, who spent her early years as a courtesan before marrying a noted scholar-official. Her refined sensibility and mastery of the brush are well represented in her delicate painting of Osmanthus Blossoms (estimate: $15,000-20,000). Another highlight is Guilin Landscape by Fang Zhaolin (estimate: $18,000-20,000). Widely traveled and educated and a student of Zhang Daqian (1899-1983), Fang Zhaolin captured here in 1977 the grandeur and beauty of one of China’s most renowned settings. Also included is the contemporary artist Xu Lele (born 1955) with her whimsical Lady Appreciating Tea (estimate: $8,000-10,000). Xu is a professional painter in the New Scholar School, which seeks to make the venerable Chinese literati painting tradition relevant to the modern period. Her status as a professional artist and a literatus demonstrates the new paths now open to women and the Chinese painting tradition alike.
THE SUBLIME AND THE BEAUTIFUL: ASIAN MASTERPIECES OF DEVOTION
Christie's Asian Art departments are honored to present an exceptional collection of 32 masterpieces from all corners of Asia, representing Buddhism, Hinduism, Daoism, and Shintoism, including a special lot by Hiroshi Sugimoto. The works of art included in the sale range from the 2nd century CE to today.
The sale comprises sculptures, paintings, manuscripts and votive textiles with highlights including a large and important gray schist figure of a Bodhisattva, Gandhara, 2nd/3rd century (estimate: $600,000-800,000); a bronze figure of Amoghasiddhi Buddha, Tibet, 1200 AD, (estimate: $400,000-$600,000); a polychrome and gilded wood figure of Nyoirin Kannon, the bodhisattva who grants desires, Japan, Kamakura period with documentation dated 1304 (estimate: $200,000-$300,000); a magnificent gilt-bronze seated figure of the Medicine Buddha, Bhaisajyaguru, China, Ming dynasty, Yongle six-character mark inscribed in a line of the period (1403-1425) (estimate: $2,000,000-$3,000,000); a seated Kongo Satta (vajrasattva), Japan, Kamakura period, 13th-14th century (estimate: $400,000-$600,000); and a very rare gilt-bronze figure of Amitabha Buddha, China, Dali Kingdom, Yunnan Province, 11th-12th century (illustrated page 6, lower right; estimate: $1,500,000-2,500,000).
The final work of the sale is Sea of Buddha, 1995, from renowned artist Hiroshi Sugimoto (b. 1948). This unique installation of a lithograph and 6 silver gelatin prints, framed and mounted under glass, was created by the artist for this exhibition and sale (estimate: $200,000-300,000). In 1994, after seven years of lobbying for permission, Sugimoto, was allowed to photograph inside Kyoto's famous 13th century Buddhist temple Sanjusangendo (Hall of Thirty-three Bays). Sugimoto captured the illuminating statues – the monumental seated Thousand-armed Kannon, and one thousand life-size standing cypress-wood figures of the Thousand-armed Kannon placed in rows on risers to either side of the main deity.
THE 'MIN' FANGLEI: A MAGNIFICENT AND HIGHLY IMPORTANT MASSIVE BRONZE RITUAL VESSEL
On March 20, Christie’s will offer the 'Min' fanglei, a magnificent and highly important massive bronze ritual wine vessel, late Shang/Early Western Zhou dynasty, 12th/11th century BC (estimate on request). This bronze has been extensively published since as early as 1928, and has been handled by some of the most important dealers and collectors of the early 20th century, including A.W. Bahr, C.F. Yau and C.T. Loo. This vessel ranks among the most important Chinese archaic bronzes to ever appear at auction. When offered for sale at Christie’s New York in March 2001, it set a world record for any Asian work of art and remains the world auction record for any archaic Chinese bronze sold at auction. With its combination of massive size, powerful proportions, and superb casting, this vessel is an extraordinary work and one of the foremost examples of its kind. The surface is intricately cast with stylized animals and mysterious monster masks, known as taotie, that provide a fascinating insight into early Chinese culture and beliefs. The crisp, precise casting of this complex design vividly illustrates why bronze vessels created during the Shang and Zhou dynasties rank among the finest examples of bronze casting the world has ever seen.
FINE CHINESE CERAMICS AND WORKS OF ART
Christie’s sale of Fine Chinese Ceramics and Works of Art will be held over the course of two days, featuring over 570 lots in a diverse range of collecting categories, including archaic bronzes, jades, early pottery and later porcelains, glass, and snuff bottles. Highlighting the sale is a magnificent and very rare large famille rose enameled turquoise-ground ‘bats’ vase, Qianlong incised and gilded seal mark and of the period (1736-1795) (estimate: $800,000-1,000,000). The extraordinary large pear-shaped vase is exquisitely decorated with numerous iron-red bats on a brilliant turquoise ground. A strong selection of Qing Imperial monochromes includes an exquisite celadon-glazed vase, also Qianlong mark and of the period (1736-1795), decorated in low relief with archaistic scrolling, foliate birds. Another major highlight will be a selection of eight outstanding examples of Ming and Qing dynasty huanghuali and zitan furniture from the distinguished Raymond Hung Collection.